May was one of the most exciting months of baseball in a long time. For some insight, the MLB set the record for most home runs hit in any one month at 1,135 home runs. Austin Riley, the newest call-up for the Braves, has gone on a historic tear with nine home runs in his first 18 games, good enough for NL Rookie of the Month. Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers pitcher, is the NL Pitcher of the Month after giving up just three runs total in all of May. So let's take a look at what has happened inside each division in May.
(All statistics and standings referenced come from https://www.mlb.com/)
Unsurprisingly, the Yankees have jumped out to lead the division over the Rays by 2.5 games, despite the Rays being 12 games over .500. I strongly believe the Rays will still make the playoffs, considering they are the leading AL Wild Card team by a good five games. In other news, the Red Sox are above .500 with a record of 31 wins to 29 losses, as I previously predicted. They had quite a slow start and are 7.5 games back, so they will likely have to contest for the other of the two wild card spots this year. The Blue Jays and the Orioles are just having brutally tough years.
The Twins are literally the best team in baseball right now in my opinion, with a league-leading .678 winning percentage to back that up, and a lopsided 41 wins to 19 loss record. They are on a historic power tear, being the second team ever to hit 100 homers in their first 50 games. Everyone else in the AL Central is disappointing, with the so-called "easy" divisional champs, the Cleveland Indians, being a whopping 10.5 games back. The White Sox and Tigers are struggling to produce offense and the Royals are just all-around terrible and having a forgettable year.
The AL West has quickly changed its dynamic and moved back to its expected ways after the month of May. The Astros have surged and taken the lead by 10 games, while the Mariners had a wonderful fall from grace. I truly believed that the Mariners had figured something out and that after April, they truly were a decent team. But after starting 13-2 much to the surprise of many, they went from first to worst in the division and are now sitting at a terrible 26-40, winning just 13 games out of 51 played after their good start. The Rangers, As, and Angels are all mediocre teams, and Houston has set themselves for another division win.
The NL East is shaping up to be one of the more interesting divisional races, with no clear frontrunner. The Phillies are on top right now, but the Braves are just a couple of games back. Last year, the same story was there with the Phillies leading going into the All-Star Break, but the Braves had a fantastic second half and comfortably won the title. However, each team in the NL East still has time to make a surge, with the Nationals and Mets having good starting pitching, and the Marlins starting to heat up, winning six of their last 10 games and even sweeping the Tigers. I would not put it past the NL East to become a four-team race heading into the later parts of the year. I still expect the Braves to win the division if they can find a proper number 4 and number 5 pitcher in their rotation, as the offense is there to back them up. Now that they have signed Dallas Keuchel, the Braves will likely solidify themselves as the division leaders in the next month. Regardless, a wild card spot or two will come from this division.
The NL Central, like the NL East, is turning out to be a competitive, interesting division. After, a slow start, the Cubs have returned to lead the NL Central, but only alongside the Brewers and NL MVP candidate Christian Yelich. The Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds are only 3.5, 5.0 and 7.0 games back respectively. I really like the Reds and believe they can heat up and push up to second or third in the division, and maybe even claim a wildcard spot. The Pirates are somehow 28-31 despite a -75 run differential thanks to their abysmal pitching, so I think the Reds can easily surpass them. Also, now that the Cubs have signed elite closer Craig Kimbrel, they can finish off games and win ballgames more comfortably. If the Brewers manage to snatch the division, that wild card spot is always there for the Cubs.
The Dodgers are playing good baseball (again) and are on a similar track to their AL West counterpart, the Houston Astros, with a division lead of 9 games. Similar to the AL West, the rest of the teams are pretty mediocre with records around .500, with the Giants being the lone wolf and being 10 games under a .500 win percentage. I believe both the Rockies and the Padres have it in them to push for one of the two wild card spots, as the Rockies have been a streaky team this year and the Padres nearing the end of their rebuild. If the Padres were to make a late push, they need the young Tatis Jr., just coming off the Injured List, to stay healthy and boost their offense.